Friday, 31 July 2015

Chinese atomic ambitions trump human rights

Letter sent to The Times on 31 July:

Your report on the short-term visa granted to Chinese stellar artist and architect, Weiwei (“’Shameful’ visa snub for artist Ai Weiwei,” ) and accompanying leader (“Chinese Puzzle,”  July 31, wonders why the British Government appears to be “kowtowing” to the Chinese Government leadership  in snubbing this world-reknown creative master.

One possible reason is, as your leader spells out, as some 20 billion in British exports to China may be at stake, and they want to keep Chinese president  Xi Jinping happy as he plans his October visit to London

However, another, perhaps more complex reason, might be the desperate need to secure Chinese inward investment into the financially stricken UK nuclear power sector.

As your leader was being read on Friday morning, UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, who had joined the prime minister’s far east tour, but diverted to Beijing as he flew home,  revealed  in the Chinese capital she expects that the long-delayed  deal for Hinkley Point C new nuclear power plant in Somerset  could be signed during  Xi Jinping London visit.

This deal was paved during George Osborne’s visit to China in autumn 2013. The Chancellor said in a statement on 15 October that year (“UK-China Economic Financial Dialogue: Chancellor's statement,”

Since then ,it has emerged from China that the primary Chinese partner  for the Hinkley Point  and Bradwell  B new reactor deals, China General Nuclear, has  been strongly pressing for a greater share of the supply chain, especially for Bradwell in Essex in which it wants considerable design and safety autonomy, something  Britain’s  independent nuclear  safety regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, is rightly resisting.(“Chinese firms to supply equipment for Hinkley Point-EDF,“ Reuters, May 12, 2015,

With the putative main French nuclear investor in Hinkley C, EDF, agreeing after protracted negotiations on 29 July to  take a stake of at least 51% in the reactor design business of Areva, the technically bankrupt French partner  at Hinkley C (, ministers are now under acute pressure  to conclude  the final financial investment decision with EDF, with Chinese backing.

Hence the British Government’s unwelcome for the dissident Weiwei.

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